professional counselor pleads guilty to $1.5 million conspiracy
to illegally distribute prescription drugs at carthage clinic
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - David M. Ketchmark, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a licensed professional counselor at a Carthage, Mo., clinic pleaded guilty in federal court today for her role in conspiracies to illegally distribute more than $1.5 million in prescription drugs and to engage in money laundering.
Tammy L. Neil, 42, of Carthage, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge James C. England to the charges contained in a May 12, 2010, federal indictment.
By pleading guilty today, Neil admitted that she participated in a conspiracy to illegally distribute phentermine from Jan. 1, 2005, through March 26, 2008. Neil also admitted that she participated in a conspiracy to engage in money laundering during the same time frame by aiding and abetting others to conduct financial transactions that involved the proceeds of the illegal distribution of prescription drugs.
Neil and her former husband (now deceased), Dr. John Freitas, a doctor of osteopathic medicine, owned and operated Complete Quick Care Clinic, 2232 S. Garrison, Carthage. Freitas was primarily in charge of the health care aspects of the clinic, while Neil managed the day to day operations of the clinic and ran the weight loss side of the clinic. As a part of the weight loss clinic, Neil was responsible for seeing more than half of all the clinic patients every day. Neil directed her employees to weigh the patients, chart their weight, and then sell the patients phentermine – which patients referred to as “synthetic meth” – as part of the weight loss protocol.
Phentermine is an amphetamine-based controlled substance often used to assist in weight loss. As a licensed counselor, Neil was not authorized to prescribe or dispense any controlled substance, including phentermine. Therefore, her patients received phentermine outside the scope of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose.
Between 2005 and 2008, Freitas and Neil deposited more than $1.5 million into several bank accounts. Under the terms of today’s plea agreement, Neil must forfeit to the government $200,000, which represents the proceeds received in exchange for the distribution of controlled substances, as well as the following property that was purchased with the proceeds: a 2007 Jaguar, a 1966 Piper airplane, and $10,000, which is a substitute asset for a 2008 Cadillac Escalade.
Under federal statutes, Neil is subject to a sentence of up to 24 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $750,000. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Randall D. Eggert and Cynthia J. Hyde. It was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the DEA Diversion Division, IRS-Criminal Investigation, the Carthage, Mo., Police Department and the Missouri State Highway Patrol.